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6 Ways to Jump-Start Your Body's Detox System
I have some bad news and some good news for you about toxins and your brain. The bad news is, we live in a poisoned world that damages our brains. The good news is, we know how to avoid and help our bodies get rid of toxins, which gives the brain a chance to heal and repair itself.
We are exposed to toxins we were never designed to deal with — and nearly all of them cause brain injury.
A recent study of umbilical cord blood found 287 toxic chemicals, 217 of which are toxic to the brain and nervous system. And that is what infants are exposed to even before they take their first breath. These toxins include mercury, lead, PCBs, BPA, phthalates, plasticizers, flame retardants and more.
There are 6 million pounds of mercury emissions from coal burning every year, and 2.5 billion pounds of toxic chemicals released into the environment every year. Where does it all go? At least some of it gets into your body — and your brain. In fact, a recent government study found an average of 148 chemicals in our bodies. And those were only the ones they tested for.
Did you know that 25 percent of New Yorkers have toxic blood levels of mercury from eating too much sushi? Or that 15 percent of American women of child-bearing age have toxic levels of mercury in their blood? That means 15 percent of the 4 million children born in the United States each year, or 600,000 children, are exposed to toxic levels of mercury in the womb. And then there are the 3,500 different chemicals that are added to our food, and the more than 3,000 chemicals found in our homes.
Below I'll discuss some of the effects these toxic chemicals have on our brains. I'll outline six simple ways to detoxify your body and reactivate your body's natural, built-in detox system. And I’ll reveal the master detoxifying molecule made in your body.
The toxic American
The average American consumes literally pounds of hormones, antibiotics, food chemicals, additives, artificial sweeteners, and MSG each year. Each one of these toxic chemicals has been shown to harm the brain.
On average we consume a gallon of neurotoxic pesticides and herbicides each year by eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. (And that’s with people eating much less than the 8 to 10 servings they should be eating!) Remember, pesticides work BECAUSE they are neurotoxic to pests — they attack their nervous system. Imagine what they do to your nervous system.
A recent study in The Lancet clearly showed that food additives make children hyperactive. Researchers took about 300 normal children and split them into two groups. Each group was given an identical-looking colored drink. One was naturally colored; the other contained sodium benzoate and many other colors and additives. The children who drank the additive-laden beverage were all much more hyperactive.
How toxins affect the brain and your health
These compounds and the total load of all the other toxins we are exposed to create what I call a "broken brain" — changes in mood, aggressive behavior, depression, problems with attention and focus, sleep problems, reduced intellectual performance, and memory loss.
It isn’t just occasionally consuming one red candy, one blue cupcake, or the few drops of pesticides sprayed on our strawberries. It is the consistent, repetitive, cumulative presence of these chemicals in our lives that leads to "broken brain" and the epidemics of autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and dementia we see in today’s world.
The truth is that the brain is very resilient and can heal from toxins, if you get rid of all the insults to it and provide all the necessary ingredients for optimal functioning.
6 ways to jump-start your body's detox system
You see, we actually have a great system for getting rid of toxins — it is what our body uses like fly paper to stick to all the toxic molecules and carry them out of the body. The molecule it uses is called glutathione and it is the most important detoxifier, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in the body. Sick people have less of it. But it is easy to make more of it, so you can get all the toxins out of your body.
Be kind to your brain! Learn how to get your detox system working:
1. Eat detoxifying foods such as green tea, watercress, dandelion greens, cilantro, artichokes, garlic, citrus peels, pomegranate, and even cocoa; and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, brocollini, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, Chinese broccoli). Or try a short-term detox diet or detox recipes.
2. Use detoxifying herbs such as milk thistle and nutrients such as selenium and zinc, all of which boost detoxification and glutathione.
3. Take special detox supplements like NAC, which is a form of sulfur your body uses to make glutathione.
4. Avoid toxic foods like hydrogenated or trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup and toxic drugs like sugar, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Getting off of these toxins for just one week is powerful enough to totally change your health and your mind.
6. Learn how to get rid of heavy metals from your body. You'll find a complete plan for this — and much more about how to support your detoxification system, reduce your toxic exposure and “live clean and green” — in my book The UltraMind Solution. You can also read about one of my patients, Joanne, who woke up from lifelong depression by detoxifying her body.